The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) thanked Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at the organization’s 2019 Winter Meeting in Washington Wednesday for his support of landmark trade agreements with China and Mexico that combined could boost U.S. poultry exports to the two countries to $3 billion a year.

In a special “fireside chat” held during the meeting with USAPEEC President Jim Sumner and USAPEEC Chairman of the Board Mark Barrett (vice president of the U.S. division of Lamex Foods), Perdue told the organization’s members that the long-sought U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) finally appeared headed to a vote in Congress.

“I think we’re close to being imminent,” he told the audience which represented chicken, turkey, duck and egg producers and distributors, and corn and soybean producers.

Asked if a vote could come before Christmas, Perdue said, “I sure hope so.”

Perdue also discussed China’s agreeing to drop its ban on U.S. poultry and accept imports, a major objective of the industry for nearly five years.

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While indicating that he would like to have seen the China market reopened earlier, Perdue said he is excited to have an agreement. Perdue also marveled at President Trump’s support and passion for U.S. agriculture.

Noting that while Trump is a New Yorker, he “really has such a true affinity and passion for, and affection for, America’s producers and agricultural sector.” He attributed that to Trump’s fondness for “people who grow things and build things.”

Perdue, who was raised on a farm in Georgia and worked as a veterinarian before becoming governor of Georgia, was enthusiastically received by USAPEEC members who lauded him for his unwavering support of American agriculture. Perdue said he was especially impressed by the large turnout from the soybean and corn industries.

Sumner thanked Perdue for his efforts on behalf of agriculture, particularly for the U.S. poultry industry and for his work to grow exports and maintain and develop markets around the world.